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Mars Launches ‘Biobank’ to Drive Pet Health Breakthroughs

By enrolling their pets in the study, pet owners will help enable new scientific discoveries to improve pet health for generations to come.

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Biobank

BRUSSELS — Mars Petcare has announced the Biobank study, for which it is recruiting 20,000 pets — 10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats across the U.S. over 10 years.

The study is “an unprecedented scientific initiative designed to improve understanding of pet health and disease, and help scientists and veterinarians innovate individualized healthcare for pets,” according to a press release.

The study will “generate longitudinal physiological data from the samples collected and connected to other metadata to gain insights about changes in health status and understand the differences between pets that are healthy as they age and pets that develop diseases.”

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“We aim for this biobank to drive breakthroughs in scientific knowledge for the future of pet health,” said Poul Weihrauch, president of Mars Petcare. “Pets make our world better, so it makes sense that we are investing in state-of-the-art research in service of our purpose to make A BETTER WORLD FOR PETST.”

More from the release:

The biobank is part of a long-standing commitment to investing in innovation, science, and technology. The company has a well-established history in driving transformative pet health innovation through the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, which has focused on pet health for over 50 years; and through Mars Veterinary Health, a network of 2,500 veterinary clinics and diagnostic labs across more than 20 countries.

Key goals: Early diagnosis and preventive health

“As a veterinary organization that touches the lives of more pets in more places than any other veterinary healthcare provider, we believe this biobank will help transform pet care for future generations of dogs and cats by engaging clients in their pets’ care in a new way and enabling veterinary teams to detect potential health issues before they happen,” said Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO, chief medical officer, Mars Veterinary Health. “The insights gleaned from this study have the potential to improve preventive pet care and individualized interventions, enabling even more pets to stay healthy.”

Today, pets are generally diagnosed and treated when disease is already present. The MARS PETCARE BIOBANK data aims to help scientists identify associations of early disease detection.

Scaling scientific insights into pet health

With scientists currently being unable to closely follow the health status of very large numbers of pets throughout their lives in a standardized way, it is challenging to spot patterns and early changes that may precede disease. Looking ahead, as part of the biobank analysis, scientists will study biological samples, pet health trends, genetic and behavior data over the next 10 years to identify early signs of potential disease and uncover new ways to support healthy development and aging, disease prediction and prevention, individualized nutrition, and health monitoring.

What sets the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK apart from other pet biobanks is not only its scale – 20,000 dogs and cats – but also that it is open to all breed makeups and lifestyles. Existing pet biobanks often study certain species, breeds or diseases.

Dogs lead the way

The study is now recruiting healthy dogs (older than six months and younger than 10 years old) already visiting select VCA Animal Hospitals and BANFIELD Pet Hospital locations. The study will begin recruiting cats later this year.

Veterinary teams at participating Banfield and VCA hospitals will see pets for annual health checks and collect samples, such as fecal and blood. Once collected, samples will be analyzed by technicians at Antech Diagnostics and stored for future analysis by scientists at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute.

Pet owners who enroll their eligible pets will receive an e-gift card after the first clinic visit and free annual routine veterinary check-ups, have annual blood samples reported via their veterinary teams, and receive a WHISTLE Fit activity monitor for dogs and a WISDOM PANEL DNA test kit for cats and dogs.

Any personal data collected as part of the study will be managed in accordance with the Mars Privacy Statement.

For more information about the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK and to apply to participate in this revolutionary study, visit marspetcarebiobank.com.

About Mars Petcare

At Mars Petcare we have one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. Through comprehensive veterinary care, nutrition, breakthrough programmes in diagnostics, wearable health monitoring, DNA testing and pet welfare we help pets thrive in more than 130 countries. For decades we’ve supported research into the incredible science of human animal interaction at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute where scientists discover important advances in pet health and wellness. Mars Petcare is part of  Mars, Incorporated, a global, family-owned business with a focus on becoming Sustainable in a Generation, reflective of the many pets and communities we serve. Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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